Gardening, Silver Award: High Country Gardens, 2001

The first thing about High Country Gardens that impressed the judges is the tagline: “Plants for the Western Gardener.” Along with the brilliantly colorful photo of scarlet cactus flowers and the invitation to peruse “47 new plants for 2001,” the cover provides readers with reason enough to take a peek inside.

The only problem a judge had with the cover is that the cataloger’s logo is not unique “and could work a bit harder.” But once inside, the merchandising is simply “outstanding,” said one judge. Beyond selecting a broad offering of plants that will thrive in the dry climate of the West, the catalog combines types and colors to create complete garden looks that are highlighted in hero shots throughout the book. Complementing the range of plants and seeds are a selection of add-on products, such as fertilizers and soil enhancers, that help to drive up High Country Gardens’ average order size.

But while the judges were impressed by the quality of the product shots, they felt the lightweight paper undermined the beauty of the photography. The panelists agreed that upgrading the paper stock, even slightly, would enhance the perceived quality of the merchandise as well as of the company itself.

What’s more, if the paper were more durable, gardening enthusiasts would likely retain the catalog as a reference tool — and therefore would probably make additional purchases throughout the year. Because paper aside, the book is designed for a long shelf life. The clever icon system makes finding the right plants for your specific needs a snap. Looking for plants that thrive in morning sun and afternoon shade? Icons indicate which ones will do the trick. There are even icons for plants that are rabbit- or deer-resistant for those customers who get wildlife visitors.

The copy also steers readers toward the best plants for their gardens. A description for the new Aquilegia species notes that “‘Swallowtail’ has a good heat tolerance and appreciates a compost-rich garden soil. Regular irrigation will keep flowers coming…” Swallowtail is just one of High Country Gardens’ many exclusives for customers who are trying to differentiate themselves from the standard landscape of their neighborhood — exclusives that also enable the cataloger to distinguish itself from the competition.

In addition to the product descriptions, customer testimonials and editorial sidebars promote a sense of authority and credibility. Thanks to such creative elements along with masterful merchandising, High Country Gardens comes across as a definitive resource for western gardeners.

High Country Gardens
Santa Fe Greenhouses
2902 Rufina St.
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Director/production manager/merchandiser/copywriter: David Salman
Designer: LCH Direct
Photographers: Lee Klopfer, William Salman
Marketing manager: Ava Salman
Printer: Banta Catalog Group
Color separator: Copy Graphics
List broker/manager: Millard Group
Cover paper: 60 lb.
Text paper: 38 lb.
Number of pages: 72
Trim size: 8-3/8″ × 10-7/8″

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